Gurmel Singh vs Branch Manager, National … on 20 May, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

Gurmel Singh vs Branch Manager, National … on 20 May, 2022

Author: M.R. Shah

Bench: M.R. Shah, B.V. Nagarathna

                                                                       REPORTABLE


                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                  CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                                  CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4071 OF 2022


         Gurmel Singh                                                …Appellant(s)
                                                 Versus


         Branch Manager, National Insurance Co. Ltd. …Respondent(s)




                                             JUDGMENT

M.R. SHAH, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned final

judgment and order dated 03.08.2021 passed by the

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at

New Delhi in Revision Petition No. 2898/2015, by which,

the appellant is denied the relief of settling the claim under

Signature Not Verified the insurance policy, the original complainant – appellant
Digitally signed by R
Natarajan
Date: 2022.05.20
17:52:27 IST
Reason: herein has preferred the present appeal.

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2. That the appellant herein – original complainant was the

registered owner of the Truck bearing No. CG­04­JC­4984.

The said vehicle was insured with the respondent herein –

insurance company for the period from 22.08.2012 to

21.08.2013. The appellant also paid a sum of Rs. 28,880/­

to the respondent towards premium. On 23­24.03.2013 in

the midnight, the said vehicle was stolen. A FIR was

immediately lodged in the Police Station Kumhari, which

was registered as FIR No. 57/13. On the same day, the

complainant also informed the insurance company as well

as the Regional Transport Office (RTO) regarding the theft

of the Truck. That after giving information regarding theft,

the appellant submitted all the documents sought by the

insurance company, but the insurance company failed to

settle the claim. That being aggrieved by the delay in

settling the claim, the appellant filed the consumer

complaint No. 200/2013 before the District Consumer

Disputes Redressal Commission, Durg, Chhattisgarh. The

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

disposed of the said complaint vide order dated 03.12.2013

with the direction that the appellant herein would furnish

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duplicate certified copy of the certificate of registration of

Truck to the insurance company within a month and that

the insurance company within a month after receiving the

same would settle the claim as per the terms and

conditions of the insurance policy. It is the case on behalf

of the appellant that in compliance of the order passed by

the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, the

appellant submitted an application before the RTO for

obtaining duplicate certified copy of the certificate of

registration of the Truck in question. However, RTO denied

to issue duplicate certified copy of the certificate of

registration on the ground that due to the report of the

theft of the Truck, the details regarding registration

certificate on the computer has been locked. Therefore, the

RTO refused to issue the duplicate certified copy of the

certificate of registration of the Truck. Thereafter, the

appellant – original complainant submitted an application

before the insurance company along with photocopy of the

certificate of registration and registration particulars, as

provided by the RTO. Despite the above, the claim was not

settled and therefore, the appellant filed a fresh consumer

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complaint bearing No. 179/2014 before the District

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Durg,

Chhattisgarh. That the said District Commission vide order

dated 23.01.2015 dismissed the said complaint by

observing that as the appellant had not filed the relevant

documents for settlement of claim therefore, the non­

settlement of the claim cannot be said to be deficiency in

service. The order passed by the District Commission has

been confirmed by the State Commission and thereafter, by

the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission by

the impugned judgment and order.

3. We have heard Shri Anand Shankar Jha, learned counsel

appearing on behalf of the appellant and Mrs. Hetu Arora

Sethi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the

respondent – insurance company.

4. It is not in dispute that the vehicle belonging to the

appellant was insured with the respondent – insurance

company. It is also not in dispute that the same was valid

for the period between 22.08.2012 to 21.08.2013. It is also

not in dispute that the appellant herein paid a sum of Rs.

28,880/­ to the respondent towards premium. It is also not

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in dispute that the insured vehicle was stolen for which a

FIR has been registered in the Police Station Kumhari on

the very day on which the vehicle was stolen. Immediately

on the very same day, the appellant informed the

insurance company as well as RTO regarding the theft of

the Truck. The appellant also produced the photocopy of

the certificate of registration and the registration

particulars as provided by the RTO. However, the appellant

could not produce either the original certificate of

registration or the duplicate certified copy of certificate of

registration of the Truck. When the appellant applied for

the duplicate certified copy of the certificate of registration,

the RTO denied to issue the duplicate certified copy on the

ground that in view of information/report regarding theft of

the vehicle, which has been registered with the RTO, the

details regarding registration certificate on the computer

has been locked. The insurance claim has not been settled

mainly on the ground that the appellant has not produced

either the original certificate of registration or even the

duplicate certified copy of certificate of registration issued

by the RTO. However, the appellant did produce photocopy

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of certificate of registration and other registration

particulars as provided by the RTO. Even, at the time of

taking the insurance policy and getting the insurance, the

insurance company must have received the copy of the

certificate of registration. Therefore, the appellant had tried

his best to get the duplicate certified copy of certificate of

registration of the Truck. However, because of the report of

theft of the Truck, the details of registration on the

computer have been locked and the RTO has refused to

issue the duplicate certified copy of registration. Therefore,

in the facts and circumstance of the case, when the

appellant had produced the photocopy of certificate of

registration and the registration particulars as provided by

the RTO, solely on the ground that the original certificate of

registration (which has been stolen) is not produced, non­

settlement of claim can be said to be deficiency in service.

Therefore, the appellant has been wrongly denied the

insurance claim.

4.1 In the present case, the insurance company has become

too technical while settling the claim and has acted

arbitrarily. The appellant has been asked to furnish the

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documents which were beyond the control of the appellant

to procure and furnish. Once, there was a valid insurance

on payment of huge sum by way of premium and the Truck

was stolen, the insurance company ought not to have

become too technical and ought not to have refused to

settle the claim on non­submission of the duplicate

certified copy of certificate of registration, which the

appellant could not produce due to the circumstances

beyond his control. In many cases, it is found that the

insurance companies are refusing the claim on flimsy

grounds and/or technical grounds. While settling the

claims, the insurance company should not be too technical

and ask for the documents, which the insured is not in a

position to produce due to circumstances beyond his

control.

5. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the

order passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal

Commission, Durg, Chhattisgarh, dismissing the complaint

filed by the appellant and the orders passed by the State

Commission and National Consumer Disputes Redressal

Commission, confirming the same deserve to be set aside

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and are hereby set aside. The original complaint being

Consumer Complaint No. 179/2014 filed before the District

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Durg,

Chhattisgarh, is hereby allowed. The appellant is entitled

to the insurance amount of Rs. 12 lakhs along with

interest @ 7 per cent from the date of submitting the claim.

The respondent – insurance company is also saddled with

the liability to pay the litigation cost, which is quantified at

Rs. 25,000/­ to be paid to the appellant herein. The

aforesaid amount is to be paid by the insurance company

to the appellant within a period of four weeks from today.

The present appeal is accordingly allowed.

………………………………….J.

                                     [M.R. SHAH]


NEW DELHI;                           ………………………………….J.
May 20, 2022                         [B.V. NAGARATHNA]




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